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"Derby House Principles (diversity and inclusion)" Topic

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Rex Brynen04 Jul 2020 7:51 a.m. PST

Several of the largest organizations of professional wargamers (that is, those who run serious games on national security issues in government, think tanks, etc) have recent endorsed the Derby House Principles on diversity and inclusion in professional wargaming: link

These are not aimed at hobby gaming, but I thought they might be of interest in that they represent emerging best practice on the professional side.

Moreover, the Derby House principles are named after miniature gamers! Specifically, they commemorate the predominately female and disabled gamers of the Western Approaches Tactical Unit during WWII. WATU were some of the most influential gamers in the history of human conflict, and their effective synthesis of gaming, operations research, and all-source intelligence analysis continues to be a model for serious defence gaming . For more on WATU see: link

MajorB04 Jul 2020 9:26 a.m. PST

It's a sad comment on this day and age that organisations have to make explicit statements about diversity and inclusivity. It should be a given in any modern context.

MajorB04 Jul 2020 9:27 a.m. PST

Interesting that the symbol at the top of the page in the link is a "nugget" – a D20.

Rex Brynen04 Jul 2020 9:45 a.m. PST

To put things in a more positive light, youth these days are the least sexist, racist, homophobic, and transphobic generation in human history. As a middle aged gamer, I'm happy to report: the kids are alright.

As for the "diversity" D20, it was designed by a colleague at Dstl (UK MoD) who helped write the statement. Dstl has purchased several hundred to give away to staff.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP04 Jul 2020 10:02 a.m. PST

Color me cynical. Any fool or committee can write such a statement. The tricky bit comes when some uncredentialed person has a worthwhile idea. Easy enough to speak of "diversity" and mean "any combination of X and Y chromosomes, any sex preferences and any skin tones--so long as they graduated from the same three or four schools, did the same advanced program and don't like anything too declasse."

David Manley04 Jul 2020 10:15 a.m. PST

Having seen the organisations that have been info I ed in creating this (one of which is part of my own), and some of the organisations that have signed up to it I wouldn't say there's anything "uncredentialed" about it.

Rex Brynen04 Jul 2020 11:34 a.m. PST

Fools didn't write the statement, nor do fools lead the organizations that endorsed it.

That being said, there are definitely issues around social class that are problematic too. We spend a lot of time thinking how to create situations where juniors feel comfortable challenging seniors and established orthodoxies.

Indeed, in the case of WATU it was Jean Laidlaw (middle class LGBT) and Janet Okell (working class Liverpool teen at the time) who first recognized that RN assumptions about U-boat attacks on convoys were fundamentally wrong, resulting in the introduction of new anti-submarine tactics.

Personal logo ColCampbell Supporting Member of TMP04 Jul 2020 11:43 a.m. PST


Thanks for the article about the WATU. I've saved it to read later.


robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP04 Jul 2020 11:44 a.m. PST

David, you completely miss my point. I've seen and studied the decision-making class in the US, and this sounds no different. No, they don't much care who you sleep with or what your skin color is. But they care almost to the exclusion of all else what school you attended and your career path. No ideas from outside are welcome. The diversity of experience and viewpoint is practically non-existent.

When the analytical bubble pops, they go around saying "no one could have foreseen this" as a shorthand for "no one who went from Choate or Andover to Harvard and stayed there long enough to get a law degree saw this coming."

The analytical outlier is that "uncredentialed" person--the man or woman with different life experience and career. These principles do nothing to bring in the person who will tell the Emperor he's naked.

Whenever anything receives this sort of unanimous self-congratulations, you look for what they're missing.

David Manley04 Jul 2020 12:00 p.m. PST

Robert, ah yes I did misunderstand. But again, knowing some of these organisations I would be surprised if what you are suggesting would be an issue

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian04 Jul 2020 1:35 p.m. PST

How would this apply to the miniature wargaming hobby?

Do you suggest any changes to the way gaming conventions and shows, tournaments, clubs, or informal gatherings are conducted?

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP04 Jul 2020 4:52 p.m. PST

I hope you're right, but human experience argues strongly against. People are happy--and smug--to ban the bigotry they don't share. The other biases are just good sense. The US has now had a black President. No doubt it will have a woman President reasonably soon. But we're now more than 60 years since the last President without a four-year degree, and 50 since the last President who didn't have a degree from a First Tier university. We've certainly changed who is and is not welcome in certain positions, but I'm not dead sure we've altered the percentages.

gunnerphil05 Jul 2020 1:59 a.m. PST

People are increasingly tolerant of people who share only their ideas. In UK the "No Platfrom" for ideas means that they students are only taught what they want to hear.

As for the young people being more tolerant. Each year we hear of increased number of racial attacks, homophobic and transphobic attacks, do not think that is pensioners going out beating people.

The rise of the far right parties in Europe is on the increase. Both Holland and France nearly had Far Right parties in power. They were defeated but not by huge ammounts.

Dn Jackson05 Jul 2020 4:05 a.m. PST

Funny, I haven't seen any documentaries about the Klan playing wargames.

On a serious note, this looks like a solution looking for a problem.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP05 Jul 2020 4:06 a.m. PST

Bill, it's a hobby. Hobby groups usually consist or friends with multiple things in common. I think we can manage informal gatherings in our homes--or even conventions--without bean-counters from the Diversity Police.

Or would you prefer to berate Methodist church socials for not making atheists sufficiently comfortable?

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian05 Jul 2020 9:32 a.m. PST

Or would you prefer to berate Methodist church socials for not making atheists sufficiently comfortable?

That's part of what I was wondering. For many people, gaming occurs in private homes. Telling someone who they must invite into their homes seems unrealistic, no matter how inclusive we think people should be.

Making rules and setting public goals is one thing, but real change comes when hearts change, when people are equally welcoming to everyone. Each of us needs to set an example, to reach out to people others might exclude, not because somebody told us to but because that's the kind of people we are.

Rex Brynen05 Jul 2020 9:42 a.m. PST

Great discussion, everyone!

Gunnerphil: The public opinion polling data on this is pretty clear. Gen Z and Millennials are more tolerant of diversity, LGBT, etc than older generations. That's not to say, of course, that there aren't younger bigots too, or that being older means you discriminate. Still, I think we can be very proud of the current generation.

Dn Jackson: In my experience, around 80% of female professional wargamers and and an even higher proportion of female hobby gamers thing there are some issues here that could be addressed.

Robert: There are no beancounters or diversity police involved, nor does any of this involve anyone telling anyone what to do in their own homes. It may not be the most welcoming signal to treat it as if that is what is being suggested.

Bill: I'll give that some thought and post something.

gunnerphil05 Jul 2020 11:11 p.m. PST

Forgot to say,the Derby House Principles were for people who have to wargame as part of their job.

This is a hobby and done for fun. So if anybody turns up and wants to play them they should be treated with resepct. But I see no reason to alter history. If you start drawing up a list of wars that are not acceptable nine are left. I have even heard complaints about fantasy games.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP06 Jul 2020 5:33 a.m. PST

Rex, I did not treat your post as such, but the attempt to glom on to it for privately-run conventions and "informal gatherings."

Otherwise, while I'm not sure where "welcoming" comes into it, I'm unimpressed. It's a loudly-proclaimed tolerance aimed at things the kids don't care about, and it's easy to be tolerant where you don't care. Get back to me when the younger generation has to deal with wargamers who are objectionable on the grounds of, say, politics, taste or education, where they actually care.

Personal logo etotheipi Sponsoring Member of TMP08 Jul 2020 10:14 a.m. PST

: The public opinion polling data on this is pretty clear. Gen Z and Millennials

like to talk about how they

are more tolerant

There. Fixed that for you.

Rex Brynen05 Aug 2020 7:28 p.m. PST

A couple of recent podcasts on diversity and inclusion in (professional) wargaming:

Armchair Dragoons – link

CNA – link

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